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Peak District Towns and Villages: Buxton

Villages around Buxton


Chelmorton has a real upland feel to it, sitting as it does in a natural bowl surrounded by low hills. It is in fact one of the highest villages of the area. The site is an ancient one, with a spring rising just above the modern village, near the church. This church is the highest in Derbyshire and was built in Norman times - the south arcade still dates from this time while the north arcade and the tower are thirteenth century - the spire was added much later.

Field patterns at Chelmorton
Field patterns at Chelmorton
Chelmorton village still retains a pattern which was probably laid down in Saxon times - a linear village laid out along a single street, with farms at intervals along the street. Uniquely amongst local villages, there have been no significant additions to this layout in recent times.

Another aspect of interest around Chelmorton is the field patterns. Those around the village are in 13 long narrow strips, a system dating from medieval times (and maybe as far back as Saxon times) but only enclosed relatively recently - probably in the 17th century. The larger fields more distant from the village were enclosed as late as 1805, and these are of a completely different shape - larger and usually almost square. This type of field pattern can also be seen near some other local villages, such as Litton. Another echo of the past is the name of the road which runs across the bottom end of the village. This is the old road between Buxton and Bakewell and is called 'The Ditch', a name which may be a relic of an ancient village boundary.

There is a public house, the Church Inn, and good footpaths lead directly from the village into the adjacent hills, particularly Chelmorton Low with the neolithic burial chamber at Five Wells Farm.

Chelmorton view of old field patterns
0 - Chelmorton view of old field patterns
Deepdale (King Sterndale) flowers
1 - Deepdale (King Sterndale) flowers
Deepdale (King Sterndale) - Thirst House cave
2 - Deepdale (King Sterndale) - Thirst House cave
Taddington - Five Wells chambered cairn
3 - Taddington - Five Wells chambered cairn
Chelmorton Church
4 - Chelmorton Church


Combs is a small hamlet off the Chapel-en-le-Frith to Whaley Bridge road. It nestles in a sheltered valley between Ladder Hill and Combs Edge. Once largely a farming community, it is now a popular place for Manchester commuters because of its good road and rail communications.

The village centres around the Beehive Inn, while to the north of the village lies Combs reservoir, which supports a local sailing club. To the east the village is overshadowed by Castle Naze, a gritstone crag at the apex of Combs edge, which provides splendid views across Chapel-en-le-Frith and the surrounding area. This was also one of the crags where rock-climbing was pioneered and it is still popular with local climbers.

Castle Naze was the site of an Iron Age fortress and the ruins of the ramparts are probably the best preserved of any in the area. This and the view make it well worth a visit.

Castle Naze
0 - Castle Naze
Castle Naze ramparts
1 - Castle Naze ramparts
Combs village
2 - Combs village

Dove Holes

Dove Holes is located high up in the limestone heartland of the White Peak, with both dramatic scenery and weather. An active and lively community, it is home to many of the workers from the surrounding quarries and carries a life within it that some of the surrounding dormer and holiday villages often lack. The 'international' beer and jazz festival held annually in early July is not to be missed.

The main historical point of interest here is the Bull Ring, a Stone Age henge monument similar to Arbor Low, and the next best example in the Peak. It is situated behind the school and church and accessed via the track to the Community centre. The bank and ditch, with a raised area in the centre, are clearly visible, but there are no stones. Local tradition has it that the stones were removed to be used as sleepers for the Peak Forest Tramway, a crude early railway constructed in the 1790s to carry stone to the canal at Buxworth. Despite this loss the Bull Ring remains an impressive place and worth visiting.

Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
0 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
1 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view

Earl Sterndale

Earl Sterndale is a farming village to the south of Buxton in the highest reaches of the limestone area of the Peak District near to the young River Dove. A quiet, rural village, it boasts a curiously named pub, the Quiet Woman, whose sign features the headless figure of a woman. It is a very old pub, remains largely traditional and is a popular place for folk music buffs. The village church is mainly notable for the fact that it was caught by a stray bomb in WWII.

The area below the village towards the Dove is very beautiful, particularly High Wheeldon, a conical hill overlooking the river. On High Wheeldon is Fox Hole Cave, which was excavated in the 1970s revealing a range of Stone Age implements and the remains of animals hunted by the men of that period. To the west lie the magnificent and incongruous-looking Parkhouse and Chrome Hills, both formed from the remains of ancient coral reefs, and along whose crests lies arguably one of the best short walks in the Peak District.

To the north-west lies High Edge, the highest part of the Peak District limestone dome, overlooking Buxton and cut into along its length by several quarries. This area was used for storing bombs in WWII and its strategic importance is revealed by the two decaying observation posts on its summit and the remains of ammunition stores inside the fences of High Edge Raceway below. It can be a bleak and imposing area but its austere beauty and mystery is undoubted.

Earl Sterndale - inside Dowel Cave
0 - Earl Sterndale - inside Dowel Cave
Parkhouse Hill
1 - Parkhouse Hill
Hindlow lime works
2 - Hindlow lime works
Earl Sterndale - Quiet Woman inn sign
3 - Earl Sterndale - Quiet Woman inn sign


Hollinsclough is a small farming hamlet which lies on the upper reaches of the River Dove, on the Staffordshire side of the river. The situation of the village is a spectacular one, overshadowed as it is by the cocks-comb ridge of Chrome Hill.

The village itself is as quiet a place as you will find in the Peak District, with quite a small resident population. There is a Methodist church and rather surprisingly the village boasts a brass band, well known in local circles.

Hollinsclough is a good starting point for walks that explore the upper reaches of the Dove and Manifold valleys between High Edge and Brandside. There are many great views from the hills in the area and relatively few walkers, with the exception of the permissive right of way that now allows walkers to follow the route along the crest of both Chrome Hill and its neighbour Parkhouse Hill.

Longnor market place
0 - Longnor market place
Chrome Hill from Hollinsclough
1 - Chrome Hill from Hollinsclough
Chrome Hill
2 - Chrome Hill
Chrome Hill - view of Parkhouse Hill and Upper Dove valley
3 - Chrome Hill - view of Parkhouse Hill and Upper Dove valley
Earl Sterndale - inside Dowel Cave
4 - Earl Sterndale - inside Dowel Cave
5 - Hollinsclough
Hollinsclough farm with Chrome Hill behind
6 - Hollinsclough farm with Chrome Hill behind
Parkhouse Hill
7 - Parkhouse Hill

King Sterndale & Cowdale

King Sterndale and Cowdale are two tiny hamlets perched on the edge of the limestone plateau above Ashwood Dale and the River Wye to the south of Buxton. Both hamlets consist mainly of farms. King Sterndale has a notable Hall, in the grounds of which the foundations of a medieval village have been found. There is also the stump of an ancient cross on the village green.

King Sterndale lies very close to Deepdale, one of the most beautiful of the local dales, and a nature reserve on account of its range of flowers. Excavations have shown that Thirst House cave in Deepdale was occupied at various times by both man and wild animals from the Ice Ages to Roman times.

King Sterndale church
0 - King Sterndale church
Deepdale (King Sterndale) flowers
1 - Deepdale (King Sterndale) flowers
Deepdale (King Sterndale) - Thirst House cave
2 - Deepdale (King Sterndale) - Thirst House cave

Peak Dale

Peak Dale, which is divided almost in two by the former Midland Railway, comprises Upper End on the west side of the railway and Smalldale on the east. Both were built to house quarrymen in the days when the stone was largely hewn from the quarries by hand, and so the settlements are composed mostly of small stone cottages and are surrounded by past, present and future limestone quarries.

Some of the former quarries have been filled in and landscaped, but others have been flooded and are now filled by blue lagoons. Some of the old quarries are used for various sports activities.

Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
0 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
Dove Holes - Bull Ring view
1 - Dove Holes - Bull Ring view


Wormhill is a small farming village found to the north of Chee Dale and west of Tideswell. The manor house, Wormhill Hall, was built in 1697 and then heavily restored in the late 19th century. The hamlet was relatively much more important in Norman times than it is today for it was once one of the administrative centres of the Royal Forest of the Peak.

Just to the west, the hamlet of Tunstead was the birthplace of Thomas Brindley who was apprenticed as a millwright but became a famous civil engineer and was responsible for the design and construction of the Bridgewater Canal. In the centre of Wormhill the village well is dedicated to Brindley. The well is 'dressed' each year in late August or early September.

In Great Rocks Dale, to the west of Wormhill, lies Tunstead quarry. Probably the largest quarry in Europe. Quarrying originally took place on the Western side of the Dale, but the owners (ICI at the time, now Buxton Lime Industries) obtained permission in 1978 to begin quarrying on the East side, working towards Wormhill. Vast numbers of trees have been planted to screen the future quarry workings and these can be seen to the west of Wormhill village. The quarrying will eventually completely remove the hamlet of Tunstead, which is already largely deserted and gives some idea of the long-term threat the quarry poses for the environment of this area.

Blackwell Mill cottages
0 - Blackwell Mill cottages
1 - Cheedale
Cheedale - Plum Buttress
2 - Cheedale - Plum Buttress
Cheedale stepping stones
3 - Cheedale stepping stones
Great Rocks Dale
4 - Great Rocks Dale
Miller's Dale
5 - Miller's Dale
Miller's Dale - Raven Tor
6 - Miller's Dale - Raven Tor

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